Runaway Camper Kills One, Injures Three
A truck wreck which Lincoln County Sheriff Curt Folger called “a very, very tragic accident” was probably not accidental at all.
While eastbound on U.S. 150, a camper detached from the large truck hauling it. The camper rumbled across the median and smacked into an SUV, killing the driver. Three other occupants, including a 10-month-old infant who was airlifed to a nearby hospital, were seriously injured. Even though the SUV driver took evasive action, “there wasn’t nothing they could do,” the sheriff said.
The two people inside the truck were not injured and none of the names were released.
Liability in Truck Wrecks
Direct operator error, such as driving while impaired or distracted, causes over 90 percent of vehicle collisions. Of the remaining 10 percent, all but a handfull are atributable to indrect operator error, such as driving too fast on a wet road, or third party negligence, such as a defective product.
Unoccupied campers do not unhook themselves, and since inclement weather was not a factor in the truck wreck, there are essentially two possibilities:
- The truck driver failed to properly secure the load, or
- The hitch was defective.
This defect could either be a design or manufacturing defect. Either way, the manufacturer is probably strictly liable for damages, which basically means that the victim/plaintiff only has to prove cause.
If the truck driver did not secure the load correctly, the truck wreck claim is almost as easy to establish. In Kentucky, common carriers, like truck driver and Uber drivers, have a higher duty of care than noncommercial operators. The duty begins when the carrier picks up the cargo and does not end until the cargo is safely delivered to its destination. Arguably, then, the driver had a legal responsibility to not only properly secure the load before departing, but also inspect it during transit.
Third Party Liability
When their employees are negligent while operating within the course and scope of employment, the employer is responsible for truck wreck damages, according to the respondeat superior rule.
This doctrine is very broad, so it normally applies to anyone that the employer controls, in terms of hours worked, renumeration, or otherwise, and who was doing anything that benefitted the employer in any way, no matter how slight. For example, most courts have held that independent contractors are “employees” and that something as simple as driving a vehicle that feature the company logo satisfies the “course and scope of employment” element.
In most cases, truck wreck damages include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages may be available as well.
Truck wrecks cause catastrophic injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Leitchfield, contact Attorney Gary S. Logsdon. Our main office is conveniently located in Brownsville.